Well, I thought I would add a few tidbits for those of you sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for news from us. I know I will hear a collective groan from everyone when I say we still have no travel dates. This is taxing beyond belief. If this is character building, I am already quite a character, thank you very much. If I have any more character, I will be hired by Disney. Okay ... enough with the disgusted sarcasm!
I will tell a little story about something that happened to me on Saturday. Those of you on the WPA board have already heard this, so bear with me.
I picked up Lisa at a birthday party way out in the boondocks, and circled back towards home on a route that took me to a grocery store that I never go to, since there are shops much closer to our house. Right in the middle of the produce section (why does it always happen in the produce section??) I felt a tap on my shoulder and was happy to see Christian's former preschool teacher, Miss Eve. She had been his teacher way back when he was two years old in Mom's Day Out. We caught up on what Christian is up to, then she looked at Lisa and said, "And who is this?" I introduced her to Lisa, and she turned to me and said, "Did you know I have two children from Korea?" No way! Lisa has Korean ethnicity, and she is always being mistaken as Korean (even by a Korean woman one time!) I told Miss Eve about Kazakhstan, and she pulled out a family portrait. I nearly dropped my teeth ... both of her children have cleft lip and/or palate. I told her "You're not going to believe this, but ..." and pulled out a photo of Melanie. I felt shivers going down my spine ... and she proceeded to tell me that they used the same surgeon that we have met with, Dr. Matthews. (I think he is the only one in this area). Miss Eve's children are now in high school, and doing very well, although their daughter has just had her 12th surgery. (Gasp!) Both children's clefts were complicated, and they have had to endure a lot. But she patted me on the shoulder, gave me her phone number, and told me she'd be more than happy to talk.
Just at the moment that I am feeling those pre-trip jitters, wondering if we are up to all this, if we are strong enough to be there for Melanie as she goes through her surgeries, someone sends me this wonderful lady to give me a boost of confidence. I truly believethat I was supposed to be at that grocery store at that very moment, to run into Miss Eve. Not to get sappy or anything, but I truly believe sometimes God speaks to us in ways that make us say, "Naaaahhhh, can't be!" (remember Moses and the burning bush? Yah right .. this bush is talking to me ...!) and we just go along our merry way. But sometimes He takes out a billboard on I-77 that says "LIZ BRANCH, LISTEN UP ..." Okay, I got the message this time, loud & clear. Everything is going to be all right. Don't be afraid. Don't worry. Wow. You tell me .... coincidence? Or not ...?
Post Script ... guess you might be wondering how a little girl with Korean ethnicity ended up in Kazakhstan? There is very large group of people of Korean heritage living in parts of the former Soviet Union. Many of them were sent there during the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900's. Some were living across the border from Korea in Russian territory, and the Russians thought they might be spies for the Japanese, so they packed them up and shipped them West. Then again, when our good friend Josef Stalin was in power there were more mass exiles of Koreans and other ethnic minorities in eastern Russia. Kazakhstan was pretty much a dumping ground for "undesirables" possibly due to its vast expanse of land and few natural resources. Ha .. if only Joe knew that Kazakhstan is sitting on top of one of the world's largest untapped oil fields, he might have rethought that idea! Okay, that is our history lesson for the day!